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Thursday, June 18, 2009


Rather than push my ebooks at Wild Rose Press and Red Rose Publishing, I wanted to offer some thoughts on writing, rejections and supportive friends.

I belong to a wonderful yahoo group called Sweetest Romance Authors. This group of authors and readers believe romance can be written without describing graphic love scenes such as behind bedroom doors. We know extreme sensuality is portrayed on soap operas or written into so many short stories and novels. When you think about it, the sweet romances are more of a challenge to write. Many writers have met that challenge. The clean, tasteful, honest and loving interaction between a man and woman portrays a love based on emotions and attraction, admiration and character, a solid foundation. This love does not emphasize the physical aspect, but rather the bond that lasts forever.

Picture the man gently touching the woman’s cheek with the back of his hand, that woman taking his hand and kissing his palm, the man relishing the faint smell of lavender in her hair, the woman sighing, the man swallowing as they make eye contact. Imagine the man’s gaze sweeping over the woman’s face, the woman centering on the man’s lips, touching them with her hand, and then closing the distance until their lips meet. Words are spoken as they separate. “I love you, and I always will.” “Death will not sever our bond of love.”

Should I follow that paragraph with the unhappy subject of rejections we suffer when we submit our writing? We all have our rejection stories to tell and please allow me to relate some of mine.

I’ve received rejections from editors, publishing houses, agents and author friends. The latter take the form of criticisms, always constructive. I’ve had rejections that hurt me deeply, infuriated me and given me hope. They all have one thing in common. They are rejections but the likeness stops there. The difference comes in the measure of professionalism used.

One of the most infuriating rejections I received was my query letter returned with a rubber stamp plastered on it as a rejection. That has to be the most lame, unprofessional rejection there is. This was by men who were authors themselves in the genre my novel was in. The most hurtful rejection I’ve received was on an ebook. I was told (suggested?) to take a couple of basic writing courses before submitting anything else. Granted, I need to work on varying my sentence structure but is that basic? I’m happy to say another website accepted that story and didn’t feel I needed a primer in English.

I had one agent who stirred all three emotions I mentioned. The first rejection letter she wrote diagonal across the form letter that I was on the right track. The second novel pages I sent, she wrote words like, “ugh” across a few sentences, very unprofessional in my book. Two years later I sent her an email on a third novel. It’s been six months and no answer.

Let me end this section on rejections with an upbeat note. In 2006 and 2008, I had a brief session with an agent at the Antioch Writers Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Each lady requested the first 50 pages of a novel I pitched. Although the lady from 2006 took seven months to reply, she apologized in a personal letter and in rejecting my novel she made the statement, “you may well be onto something here, but. . .” The lady in 2008 said in her rejection letter, “though I’m impressed with your story concept, . . .,” “Despite the many riches here, . . .” These sorts of rejections do not hurt, in fact they are encouraging and those ladies showed their professionalism. There are other rejection stories but I’ll just say a few of the big time science fiction magazines had editors who actually took the time to respond personally to their countless submissions and usually have remarks for my SF stories like, “well enough written, but. . .” and “I enjoyed the references to Amelia Earhart, but. . .” Those were complimentary.

Let me conclude by commending my many supportive friends. That includes the authors in the Sweetest Romance yahoo group I’m happy to be a member of, three editors at Wild Rose and two editors at Red Rose who accepted my stories. They have all praised my descriptive prose, commended me on character development and indicated my ability to craft a story. They have asked to see more. Reviews have been great and I’ve made numerous friends including a lady in England.

Thank you, Tami for inviting me to guest blog. I hope you will invite me again.


lastnerve said...

Wonderful blog today Larry. I think it is very important for other authors who are facing rejection letters to be given the hope that they need by reading your story today. I wish people were more professional when they gave a rejection letter, but alas, I guess that is impossible to have everyone be that way. I love your style of writing and the characters you have brought to life in your books. You have a gift and although you may feel let down at times, never ever give up on your gift!


Miss Mae said...

This entire post demonstrates your skill in using the written word and to reach readers. You touched my heart with the beautifully descriptive paragraph of tender, sweet romance between a man and woman. It's those deep, intimate moments that cement a couple together, not a blow-by-blow scene that goes on behind closed--and sometimes open!--bedroom doors!

I do believe you'll make it with those agents, Larry. With stories like yours (I'm still in love with Buddy's Twelve-Year Crush :) ), you have treasure to share with the world. And I think a savvy agent is going to see that. :)

Miss Mae

Mona Risk said...

I have two folders of rejection letters, the form ones, the nice ones, those suggesting revisions, and one that wasn't even signed. But eventually I got published at Cerridwen Press, tO LOVE A HERO and FRENCH PERIl two omantic suspenses, and at the Wild Rose Press, BABIES IN THE BARGAIN, a medical romance. Yo will have your day. Don't give up.

Anne Patrick said...

Beautifuly said Larry. I loved Stephen King's book on writing. He talks alot about the rejection file. He even had a professor tell him once that he didn't have talent and look where he's at today.

Sharon Donovan said...

Lovely post, Larry. I think we all have a rejection letter that stays hopelessly embedded in our brains as the worst. Mine was a rejection in the form of a post card from a thought to be top New York literary agent. One sentence screamed at me, "Your workd does not excite us."
Talk about lack of professionalism, that took the cake. It took a while to learn there are various grades of rejection letters. And if it begins with "Dear Author," you know to read no further. But if they use your name, at least there is hope it is not a basic form letter. Thanks for a wonderful post. Like Miss Mae said, somewhere out there, a savvy agent is going to snag you right up.
All the best,
Sharon Donovan
Romantic Suspense with a Twist of Faith

Ann Whitaker said...

Loved your post, Larry. Rejection in any form is never easy, but I don't understand agents or editors who are rude. Even a "Sorry, not for us," is better than an "Ugh."

Judging from your blog, you certainly don't need to take a "basic writing course." This is from someone who taught English at several levels for 30 years and has an MA in English.

I think some agents/editors just dash off something quickly because it's easy, not realizing there's a real person on the receiving end.

Keep proving them wrong!

Laurean Brooks said...


I feel your pain. Rejection hurts. I read somewhere, "For every 9 sumbmissions, expext 8 rejections." Remembering that has kept me trying. I just accept those eight and say, "Hey, the next one has to be a charm."

Your stories are intriguing and your words flow with beautiful description. Don't let someone who probably has different genre tastes discourage you.

Keep on writing. Here's a verse I was given when I was at the bottom of the pit.

"The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy and loving kindness, O Lord endure for ever; forsake not the works of Your own hands. Psalms 138:8"

I printed it out and taped it to my computer screen.


Laurean Brooks, White Rose Publishing,
Journey To Forgiveness: 5 ***** review at You Gotta Read

God's Healing Rippled With Humor
"Without The Author, the Quill Runs Dry"

Mary Ricksen said...

Great post Larry, I think any writer understands the feelings that a rejection letter can evoke. Like getting a form letter with your books name hand written in. So, let me tell you I know. I once had someone say to me, "Why would you think I'd be interested in this?" Nice huh? I actually wrote back and told him he was an idiot. He wrote back...ah that was fun.
The same feelings you get with a rejection letter come into play when you get a bad review. And I have realized that there is always someone out there in a bad mood, who would love to trash your book.
Good luck Larry, and if your blog is an example of your writing. I say, well done!

Rachel Rossano said...

Wonderful post, Larry. I especially appreciated your presentation of your trials in trying to get published. Keep working at it. There is an audience out there. We at Sweetest Romance can't be the only ones in the world who think like you. :) Thanks for the encouraging words.

Anonymous said...

Larry, I'm late - but can I just say...

I got lost in your paragraph of the man and woman's encounter. That is romance, plain and simple -- in your amazing voice. Lavender scented hair! brilliant imagery...

You will have your day. Writing is rewriting. The query / submissions game is hit and miss. So nice with our new publishers that we can take away the middle ground and work straight with editors.

Thank you for sharing...

From one sweet romance author to another,


Hywela Lyn said...

What a beautiful, inspiring and touching post, Larry. Your discription of 'romantic encounters between a man and a woman' was absolutely beautiful and the very epitome of true romance.

I'm sure your experiences of rejections mirror those of most of us, who aspire to write, whether published or non published - and no-one who truly wants to be published should ever give up, after all, agents and editors are only human and what one person loves another may ot. Look at the famous writers who were rejected, even some of the 'classics' were self published.

You have a wonderful, refreshing 'voice', and I'm so happy that that this has been reoognised by the publishers of your books. I've just finished reading 'motorcycle woman' and I loved it, such a touching, refreshingly written story.